17 December 2014

Florida, Roodepoort: RSME (Rand Society of Model Engineers): Industrial (Class H design) 4-10-2T NBL 23722/1928 ex-Witbank Colliery No 1

2015 image (c) Patrick Ackerman via fb

In in June 2014, a Reid Ten-Wheeler, built in 1928 by NBL for an industrial user, was plinthed on the premises of the Rand Society of Model Engineers (RSME) in Florida in Roodepoort.

Locohunter's post June 2014 image as posted on flickr

This locomotive, deployed in industrial use from day one, was the last one built to the original design used for the South African Railways Class H locomotives.

The locomotive was originally ordered by Witbank Colliery and delivered in 1928.

Below follows an article copied from here - this tells the story best.

(The original version of this article was sourced here on 16 Dec 2014.)

This article compiled by Shaun Ackerman – Engineering Director of Reefsteamers Association with history researched by John Middleton – One of the founding members of SANRASM.

A total of 137 locomotives of this type were built of which Witbank Colliery No. 1 is the last survivor in original condition.

Rail traffic on the Natal Government Railways was increasing rapidly in the 1890s and G.W. Reid, their Locomotive Superintendent identified the need for a locomotive that could haul at least 50% more than a Dübs A class 4-8-2T. Because of the great size of the proposed 4-10-2T locomotive (for that era) a prototype was delivered in 1899 from Dübs of Glasgow, Scotland. It was subsequently deemed successful and a further 100 locomotives followed from Dübs between 1900 and 1903. The last four of the order were completed by the North British Locomotive Company which absorbed Dübs in 1903.

NGR class C 171 (SAR class  253). Image: Wikipedia Commons.
They were Natal Government Railway Class C becoming South African Railways Class H in 1912.

During the Anglo-Boer War the Imperial Military Railways urgently required new locomotives and ordered a further 35 “Reid Tenwheelers” being a proven design. These were manufactured by Neilson, Reid & Co, also in Glasgow and later became South African Railways Class H1.

Although successful in service they were rapidly replaced by more advanced
locomotives and the vast majority of the Class H were rebuilt as 4-8-2T for shunting (South African Railways Class H2). The H1’s where rebuilt more radically to Class 13 4-8-0 tender engines, using redundant 6-wheel tenders from older locomotives. The few not rebuilt were scrapped before 1910.

In 2014 four Class H2 (but no Class 13) locomotives survive including one in the
National Collection in the Outeniqua Railway Museum at George. The last locomotive in service in 4-10-2T form was in the early 1920s.

However, one further “Reid Tenwheeler” was to be built several years after they had ended service on the main line. The Witbank Colliery Co Ltd had operated a coal mine since 1896 in Witbank (today eMalahleni) in Mpumalanga.

In 1928 the company opened a new “South Section” and required a large locomotive to haul coal to the exchange sidings at Witbank station, a distance of about 4 kilometers.

Although for a 4-8-2T this image by Ron Fisher posted on flickr included here to illustrate the railway operation at Witbank Colliery in the 70's

An order was placed with the North British Locomotive Co in Glasgow for the 137th and final “Reid Tenwheeler”. It was delivered as North British No. 23722 of 1928, painted blue with white lining and lettered “WITBANK COLLIERY LTD No. 1” on the side tanks. It received a new boiler from North British in July 1938, but the reason why the original lasted only 10 years is unknown. 

Image posted to flickr by Ron Fisher

However, with its new boiler it continued in service hauling coal for another 25 years until it was last steamed in March 1963.

9 September 1972 Image posted to flickr by Ron Fisher

16 Ocober 1973 image courtesy of Roger Griffiths

As WITBANK COLLIERY No. 1 it seems to have held sentimental value for the mine as it remained stored for over 20 years at the South Section loco shed until it was donated to the Railway Society of South Africa (RSSA) in a ceremony on 1 December 1985 when the RSSA ran a special train right into the colliery from Johannesburg to mark the occasion.

29 October 1976 courtesy of Roger Griffiths

19 December 1982 Image posted on flickr by TrainsandTravel

As it was a large locomotive, the RSSA couldn’t move it immediately and it remained at Witbank for another nine years until moved to the SANRASM Preservation Site at Randfontein in 1994.

Weight: 70 tonnes
Coal Capacity: 4.1 tonnes
Water Capacity: 8500 litres
See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_African_Class_H_4-10-2T

Locomotive Status in Recent Years

The South African National Railway and steam museum (SANRASM) had a long and rich history which sadly ended in tragedy after almost the entire collection was lost through bad management, lack of vision and the tough situation that all preservation groups experience in South Africa namely the increasing demand for non – ferrous material in particular for “scrap”.

This is an entire article on its own and I will not go into this now as the focus remains on the H class locomotive!

SANRASM partnered with Reefsteamers a few years ago as Transnet would no longer supply them with diesel traction and coaches for their Magaliesburg Express trains which became their only source of income after their trains stopped running from their site on the outskirts of Krugersdorp. Reefsteamers provided the trains with an added bonus of the trains being steam hauled. This partnership worked well for some time until the plundering of the organizations assets became public knowledge about four years ago.

Reefsteamers became involved for obvious reasons to assist in moving and storing what could be saved as did the Sandstone Heritage Trust. The process of actually moving the assets was somewhat held up until recently for a number of reasons that I will also not develop now!

I made a personal proposal to assist the remaining exco of SANRASM who wanted to see the items saved but did not have the knowledge or resources to relocate the very few locomotives and coaches remaining to Reefsteamers. The project was planned and initiated taking seven weeks to complete. Ten coaches where moved and saved as well as seven locomotives counting the H class. Some other smaller items where salvaged for other preservation groups. The site is now nothing more than a flat, tidy barren piece of ground!

The H class was identified to be cut up because of the logistics and cost to move it, but after some thought while working on the project I decided to request the locomotive for the RSME. This way it would be saved and kept safe as the only surviving H class in its original condition with the exception of the front bogie that was missing, but luckily it turned up under a heap of “scrap” on site. The four axle boxes had been stolen so it was quite a task getting the bogie back under the locomotive.

The next step was to get 60 pound rail and steel sleepers to the RSME and Patrick Ackerman senior and junior with the help of Daniel and a few other folk assisted in levelling the ground. Pat ordered a truck load of 19mm stone and put this over the rail panel once built and levelled it off. This created a plinth rail for the locomotive to stand on.

The locomotive was moved to the RSME using a 80 ton low bed vehicle on Friday the 27th June 2014 and unloaded on Sunday the 29th June with the help of Transcor and Chimes Cranes. The professional team under my guidance rigged the locomotive and lifted it off the low bed and onto the plinth rail where it now stands.

The locomotive still needs to be jacked up about four inches on the front end to enable packing blocks to be fitted under the bogie axles as the axle boxes are missing. This will level off the locomotive.

A replica NGR (Natal Government Railways) style head lamp will be fitted.

Plans are in place to have the locomotive sand blasted and undercoated by a
professional entity and the top coat will be put on by us once this has been done.

It will be painted in its original blue colour but with yellow stripes representing the RSME colours. The RSME emblem and name will go on both side tanks and eventually the cab will be caged in to keep out unwanted nocturnal inhabitants and a small palisade fence and plaque will be put up for the locomotive to ensure the public can be kept informed on the locomotive while also improving security.

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